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20. století

Otto Wichterle

Czech inventor and chemist
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He was a Czech chemist and inventor and he is mainly renowned for inventing modern contact lenses.
He graduated from the Chemical and Technological Faculty of the Czech Technical University in 1936. In 1939, all universities were closed down by the Nazi regime but Wichterle managed to enter the research institute of the Bata works, and was thus able to continue his research on plastics. He was able to develop the first Czechoslovak synthetic fiber, to which he gave the name of silon. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 but thanks to his correspondence with the German chemist Langenbeck, he was released only

after a few months.
After the Second World War he returned to the university and continued his research, primarily on organic chemistry. He was however persecuted by the communist regime. In 1958 he was fired from his office as dean of the Chemical Faculty, his most famous invention was hence home-made. To create it he used the children construction kit Merkur and initiated a whole new era for the production of lenses. In 1970 he was expelled a second time from his position in the institute and his patent was sold to the USA without his knowledge. He was fully rehabilitated after the Velvet Revolution in 1990.


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